Australian expeditioners from Davis and Mawson research stations and support crew are finally heading home on MPV Everest, after an extended and challenging aerial resupply mission.

Thick sea ice off the Mawson coast meant the station changeover and resupply had to be achieved by helicopters flying more than 120 kilometres each way, moving around 2,500 kg a day in several flights – like a ute-load at a time between Hobart and Launceston – when weather conditions permitted.

In an epic undertaking, 22 tonnes of essential and priority cargo was transferred to Mawson station to keep the team there ticking over for the next year.

It was literally a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to locate, move and sort priority cargo; clear the deck of snow and ice on a daily basis; and maximise the payload and fuel use for every flight into Mawson.

Voyage Leader Andy Cianchi said the secret to picking and packing internal loads is the balance between weight and volume.

“The team building the helicopter loads were magicians, filling every nook and cranny, whilst ensuring the full weight limit is reached,” he said.

“For example, 400 kg of frozen chickens only half-fills the helicopter cabin, but a cabin full of frozen broccoli only weighs 100 kg.”

Colleagues, friends and families are keenly looking forward to the expeditioners’ return. Smooth seas and following winds!